Being a flirt has paid off for Spiegel

Jill Spiegel is a big flirt � and she wants everyone to know it.

After all, that's how she makes a living.

Spiegel's flirting ability is what has landed her on the "Today Show," "Oprah" and "Politically Incorrect," laid the groundwork for her motivational firm and inspired her three books, "Flirting for Success," "Flirting with Spirituality" and "The Pocket Pep Talk."

"Flirting is the art of making people feel special," says Spiegel, the great-great-granddaughter of Spiegel catalog founder Joseph Spiegel, during a phone call from her Minneapolis office. "Flirting is playful, not sexual. It's being your natural self."

Flirting exists at several levels, and isn't just for attracting romance to one's life, she points out.

For example, there's the shy flirt of Princess Diana and Robert DeNiro, the outgoing flirt of Regis Philbin and Oprah Winfrey, and the outrageous flirt of Bette Midler and Jackie Chan.

And there's the flirt to smooth out bumps in relationships.

"I was on 'Politically Incorrect' with Joan Rivers. We knocked heads (on the show) so I flirted with her at the commercial break," she says.

Spiegel commented on River's daughter, Melissa, and how proud she must be of her daughter's success. Rivers immediately warmed to Spiegel and by the end of the show they were friends.

A natural

Born in Highland Park, Ill., to a stockbroker father and homemaker mother, Spiegel began flirting as a young child.

"I've been a flirt my whole life," she says.

She graduated with honors in English from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and began selling cutlery door to door. She did so well selling knives that the company moved her to Minneapolis to lead training sessions for other sales personnel. She taught them that being playful with prospective buyers would increase sales.

In 1990, Spiegel started Goal Getters, a company she now runs with her husband, Joe Brozic, a former television advertising representative. The company is a platform for her motivational seminars, books, media appearances and Web site, Flirtnow.com.

Spiegel now bills herself as a flirtologist and conducts workshops for such Fortune 500 companies as Honeywell and IBM.

Helpful hints

Spiegel says anybody can learn to be a flirt. They just have to believe in themselves and follow their instincts and imagination.

"You have to flirt with yourself first," she says. "It all starts in your mind. You have to think the most positive thoughts about yourself. You have to exude confidence � throw your shoulders back and look people in the eye."

Other tips:

� Break the ice with everyone. Say hello in the way you'd address someone who've known forever, or ask a question.

"The good news is, it's not about being clever," she said, after making a good first impression. "The trick is to be genuine and not be a smoothie."

� Like and respect all people. Realize there is something to learn from every interaction.

� Develop a sense of humor, and laugh at yourself when you make a mistake.

� Being shy doesn't mean you aren't a good flirt. Shy people, Spiegel points out, give others their undivided attention, are good listeners and don't feel like they have to be in the spotlight.

� Don't confuse flirting with come-ons or sexual advances, particularly in the workplace.

"Sexual flirting is inappropriate in the office. I don't consider that flirting anyway because it doesn't make people feel good," she says. "But the friendly flirt is the office hero. They treat everyone with respect and make them feel good."

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